Disasters & Accidents

At least 9 dead in Astore avalanche in northern Pakistan

Islamabad, May 27 (EFE).- At least nine people were killed and some 25 others were injured after an avalanche struck the Shounter Pass area in the Astore district of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region early on Saturday, an official confirmed.

The victims were nomads who were taking their cattle from the Punjab province to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region for the summer season because of its green pastures.

“It was raining in early morning when an avalanche hit the area where the nomads had stayed,” Fateh Ullah, a spokesman for the GB government, told EFE.

“As a result, nine people, including three women and six men were killed while 25 others were injured,” said Ullah.

The official confirmed that the nomads were heading to Astore from Chakwal district in Punjab by passing through the Pakistan controlled Kashmir region.

Ullah added that all the killed belonged to Chakwal area in the Punjab province.

The spokesman said that police and rescue teams have reached the site along with army troops who also are assisting in the rescue operation. A state of emergency was imposed at the government-run hospital in Astore.

The Shounter pass connects Azad Kashmir to Astore district in GB.

Camps and some animals of the nomads are also feared buried in the avalanche, the official added.

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five out of 14 world peaks that sit 8,000 meters above sea level including the mighty K2.

The region has more than 7,000 glaciers, making Pakistan the country in the world, outside the polar regions, with the largest volume of glacial ice.

Many of the glaciers are melting and receding due to climate change.

The scenic region often sees avalanches, landslides and glacial lake outbursts.

In 2012, 129 Pakistani army soldiers and 11 civilians were buried after a massive avalanche hit their Pakistani military’s regional headquarters in Gayari sector, near the Siachen Glacier region.EFE


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